Posts Tagged ‘Films’

Two Blondes Countdown to the Oscars: Best Supporting Actress

February 22, 2011

The Nominees:

Amy Adams The Fighter

Helena Bonham Carter The King’s Speech

Melissa Leo The Fighter

Hailee Steinfeld True Grit

Jacki Weaver Animal Kingdom


WHO WE THINK WILL WIN

Jessica:  Melissa Leo

Alison:  Amy Adams or Melissa Leo

WHO WE WANT TO WIN

Jessica:  I should stipulate that I have not seen Animal Kingdom, so I have no idea what Jacki Weaver’s performance was like.  Literally, the only thing I know about her is she is nominated in this category for a movie called Animal Kingdom.  I had never heard of her or the movie before the nominations came out and I’m someone who considers myself fairly up on pup culture things.  I look forward to adding Animal Kingdom to my blockbuster queue…and then probably not see the movie for another five years.  There are a lot of movies on my list already.  I just checked – there are 377 titles currently on my wait list.  Anyway, back to the matter at hand – who I want to win.  I’ll go with Amy Adams in The Fighter.  She was tough, but vulnerable.  I also like Melissa Leo’s performance, but I wasn’t crazy about the ads she took out in the trades on her own behalf.  That just seems…off.

Alison:  I’d be happy if Amy Adams, Melissa Leo or Helena Bonham Carter won.  I love all three actresses and think they all make interesting choices career wise.  Melissa Leo disappears into this role, as she also did in the film Frozen River and I love her lack of ego with portraying tough, sometimes broken women.  Helena Bonham Carter is a force to be reckoned with and usually takes over the screen in movies like Fight Club and the Harry Potter series, but in The King’s Speech, is able to play a quiet strength and let Colin Firth shine in his role.  She is perfect in this movie.  Amy Adams shows a different side of herself in The Fighter.  I loved this tough-girl side of her.  I just love her in general.  She’s cute and sweet.

Two Blondes Make Predictions: The Oscars

February 21, 2009

Two Blondes shake their glittery Magic 8 Ball and make some predictions about the Oscars:

ALISON SAYS:

pixar_walle1BEST PICTURE:
Who I think will win: Slumdog Millionaire
Who I want to win: WALL-E
I can’t describe how much I love WALL-E.  It’s one of the only films in my life to make me cry (my heart is normally protected by a hard stone cover).  I’ve never seen a character as loving, fragile and as wonderful as that goshdarn little robot.  I’m sure admitting this publicly will take away what little “street cred” I have (if any), but I can’t refrain from gushing over WALL-E.  Even my cell phone has a ring that involves that little robot yelling out “EVE-A.”

DIRECTING:
Who I think will win: Slumdog Millionaire
Who I want to win: The Wrestler, but Darren Aronofsky isn’t even nominated.
Dear Academy,
WTF?
Alison

frozen_river_melissa_leoACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE:
Who I think will win: Kate Winslet
Who I want to win: If you’d asked me five days ago, (before I received Frozen River on Netflix), I would have called it a tie between Meryl Streep and Kate Winslet.  But now after having watched Frozen River, I’ve gotta put the tie between Melissa Leo and Kate Winslet.  I’d also go so far as to call Melissa Leo’s performance almost as raw and gritty as Mickey Rourke’s (of course the films couldn’t be more different, but there’s something to both performances that struck a nerve with me and exhibited a lack of vanity).

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE:
Who I think will win: Marisa Tomei.  And I hope she says “See?!  It wasn’t a fluke.”
Who I want to win: Marisa Tomei, followed closely by Viola Davis.  Both women blew me away.

wrestler-aronofsky-promo-01ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE:
Who I think will win: Toss up between Frank Langella and Mickey Rourke.
Who I want to win: Mickey Rourke.  He’s fucking amazing in The Wrestler.
Mom, I’m sorry to swear, but it’s the truth.
I also wish there was a “Shout Out Best Actor” Oscar category that could be given to Ben Burtt for creating the voice and sounds for WALL-E.

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE:
Who I think will win: Heath Ledger
Who I want to win: Tie between Heath Ledger and Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
Both were stunning performances.  An honorable mention for funny must be given to Robert Downey Jr. for Tropic Thunder.  I can’t imagine any other actor pulling off what he did in that film.  I don’t think that means he should get an Oscar over the other nominees, but I’m sure glad he’s being recognized.

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY):
Who I think will win: Slumdog Millionaire
Who I want to win: Doubt
I loved Slumdog Millionaire, but I think I loved it because it moves you while you’re watching it.  Afterwards, after the music and lights have faded, you wonder about some holes in the script and story, but it was still a film that made you sad and happy and in between throughout, so you forgive those flaws.  But in regards to Doubt, it performs on every level.  I can’t think of any weakness in it.  The script is pitch perfect.

walle_lgWRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY):
Who I think will win: Milk
Who I want to win: WALL-E.
Have I mentioned I love WALL-E?  Cause I do.  As I type this, I can look to my left and see a little WALL-E figurine sitting on my desk.  And every time I look at it, my heart swells.

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM:
Who I think will win: I’m really not sure, but Kung Fu Panda did sweep the Annie Awards.
Who I want to win: WALL-E.
You may have noticed a theme of me loving WALL-E.  On a sidenote, I do think Kung Fu Panda is wonderful and one of the best films DreamWorks has made.  I also find it really exciting how many animated films there are that are entertaining for audiences of all ages.

ART DIRECTION:
Who I think will win: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button or Changeling
Who I want to win: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button or Changeling

slum-dog-millionaireCINEMATOGRAPHY:
Who I think will win: Slumdog Millionaire
Who I want to win: Slumdog Millionaire
Every nominee should get a gold star in my humble but accurate opinion.  They’re all beautiful films.

COSTUME DESIGN:
Who I think will win: No idea.
Who I want to win: I’m not sure who I want to win, but I really want all of the dresses Kate Winslet wears in Revolutionary Road and all the hats Angelina Jolie wears in Changeling.  Can someone please arrange that for me?  I’d be your best friend forever!

FILM EDITING:
Who I think will win: Slumdog Millionaire
Who I want to win: The Dark Knight

MUSIC:
Who I think will win: Slumdog Millionaire
Who I want to win: WALL-E
While I loved the music in Slumdog Millionaire and have downloaded the album on iTunes, it’s the music in WALL-E that moved me and continues to move with every viewing in a way I’ve never experienced on any other film.  As I’ve said, I love that little robot.

SOUND EDITING:
Who I think will win: WALL-E
Who I want to win: WALL-E

SOUND MIXING:
Who I think will win: WALL-E
Who I want to win: WALL-E

benjamin_button_poster_lgVISUAL EFFECTS:
Who I think will win: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Who I want to win: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and WALL-E
No matter whether you’re a Benjamin Button lover or hater, you can’t deny what the visual effects department accomplished in the film.  Visually, the film is a masterpiece, as is WALL-E.

*You may have noticed that there were quite a few ties in my choices.  I obviously suffer from indecision and an intense love of good filmmaking.  Also, it’s really hard to decide when you’re aware of how much work, blood, sweat and tears went into every film.

Congratulations and best wishes to all the nominees!
XXOO Alison

JESSICA SAYS:

BEST ACTOR:
My pick, were I an Academy member, would be Mickey Rourke and I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t win.  I haven’t seen The Visitor or Milk yet, so I can’t speak to Sean Penn’s and Richard Jenkins’ performances.  Running a close second here is Frank Langella.  If anyone can step in front of Rourke, it’s Frank Langella as Richard Nixon.  He is fantastic and already has a Tony for this role.  However, I’m giving the upper hand to Rourke because, besides the fact that he gave an outstanding performance, there is nothing folks like more than an underdog.

heath_ledger_joker_9BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
OK, I recently changed my mind on this one.  I think Heath Ledger will win – it’s almost absolute at this point.  He was a great actor and it truly is a shame we won’t get to see any future work from him.  He was great in The Dark Knight.  However, I’ve decided my vote (if I got one) in this category would go to Philip Seymour Hoffman.  The more I have reflected on it, the more I really am astounded by his performance in Doubt. ( I haven’t seen Milk or Tropic Thunder.)

kate-winslet-the-reader-3BEST ACTRESS
Kate Winslet.  My reason is the same as everyone else’s (I presume).  She is great in The Reader, but I’m also picking her for all those times she hasn’t won yet.  Plus, she’s totally awesome and will give a killer acceptance speech.  I totally respect the fact that she makes no bones about wanting to win.  You should want to win. ( I haven’t seen Frozen River.)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
This is the category that is notoriously hard to pick, e.g. the last time Marisa Tomei won.  Personally, I would vote for Amy Adams in Doubt, although I loved Viola Davis and Marisa Tomei too.
BEST DIRECTOR:
Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire.  It is rare that Best Picture and Best Director don’t go hand and hand, so…

slumdog_millionaireBEST PICTURE:
Slumdog Millionaire.  It will win, but Frost/Nixon is deserving as well.

OTHER CATEGORY PREDICTIONS:
Best Editing – Frost/Nixon
Best Foreign Language Film – Waltz with Bashir
Best Sound Editing – WALL-E (watch the DVD extras-they’re great)
Best Sound Mixing – The Dark Knight
Best Adapted Screenplay – Doubt
Best Original Screenplay – WALL-E

oscar_sallykirkland1

OTHER PREDICTIONS:
I predict Sally Kirkland and Faye Dunaway will inexplicably be in attendance.  They have both been at the previous two ceremonies and have served to only make me fear the ageing process that much more. I can only hope they reappear so I can read what Go Fug Yourself has to say about an ensemble like this:

I predict Renee Zellweger, if she attends, will usurp Jessica Simpson and Lindsay Lohan as the new most talked about weight issue.

Two Blondes Ask: Who do you think will win Best Picture?

February 18, 2009

Two Blondes Go to a Movie: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

January 9, 2009

Two Blondes review a movie and ramble about themselves.


ALISON SAYS:

I love David Fincher.  I think Se7en and Fight Club are two of the best movies ever.  Ever! Also, on a personal note, I met Fincher at a premiere a while back.  He was super nice, despite me being a rambling fan who probably reeked of Appletini’s at the time.  And he’s pretty cute.  That said, I really liked The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but I didn’t love it as much as I wanted to.  Is it a marvel and an accomplishment of film making?  Yes.  Am I impressed with what they were trying to do?  Yes.  Is Brad Pitt talented?  Yes.  Was the movie too long and felt a tad too much like Oscar bait rather than just passionate film making?  Yes.

Brad Pitt did really impress me with his performance.  Especially during the times when he was a child/old man at the beginning.  There was a vulnerability to his performance that I haven’t seen from him before and was really happy to see.  Of course as he grows younger, he stunned with those golden boy looks.  But this movie also proved Brad Pitt is still pretty damn hot, even with wrinkles and lanky gray hair.  Congrats Angelina!  Cate Blanchett is stunningly beautiful and talented, as always.  I’m not sure if there’s anything she can’t do.

I was intrigued by the idea of a person growing younger throughout their life and how that wouldn’t be a fantasy scenario.  I will now be much more grateful to grow old with the person I love, rather than growing younger.  I also loved the idea of the clock that runs backwards. There were a lot of parts about the movie that I loved, it’s just the whole that threw me.  I didn’t find myself caring at all about the story in the present with the daughter and her dying mother.  I’m still not sure how I feel about the random shots of the old guy who was continually hit by lightning.  On one hand it was funny and visually interesting, on the other hand, it was distracting from the main story and seemed unnecessary, especially when the movie was already an hour too long.

There’s something about The Curious Case of Benjamin Button that made me feel like Fincher decided he needed to make his Forrest Gump.  Despite that, he still accomplished a mood with the movie, a timeless love story, and a connection to the past that is worth going to the theaters for.  Just be prepared to get restless butt syndrome while you’re watching it.

LA Viewers: I’d say to hit up a matinee at the Grove or Arclight, or wait till it hits one of those little cheap theaters on Beverly Blvd.

Translation for non-LA natives: Go to a matinee.

JESSICA SAYS:

I saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button over Christmas and have been putting off writing my review because I didn’t really know what I wanted to say about it.  The film is long.  2h 47min.  I mean, I feel like I complain about movie lengths a lot on here, but if you expect me to sit still for three hours in a dark room, the story better be pretty riveting.  I can’t say that I thought this movie was.  I feel like I gave them three hours of my time and I didn’t come away thinking anything more than what I went into the movie thinking—it’s a story where Brad Pitt ages backwards.  Aging backwards is an interesting thought, but I didn’t get anything profound out of the story about life, death, aging, etc.  It was just…OK.

I recommend renting this movie, but I bet this will end up being one of those titles you add to you Netflix/Blockbuster queue and when it shows up at your house you keep it for about two months before you get around to watching it.

Two Blondes Go to a Movie: Twilight

December 17, 2008

Two Blondes review a movie and ramble about themselves:

JESSICA SAYS:

I called dibs on Robert Pattinson years ago, but when I say ‘Robert Pattinson,’ I really mean Cedric Diggory.  I first noticed him in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and the role of Cedric required him to be charming and heroic without saying much and to keep his hair at a reasonable level of unkemptness.  Now yes, I know that at the time he was only 17 and I was…older than that.  However, I knew if I just had a little patience, one day the world wouldn’t judge us as harshly.

These days, his hair has reached ridiculous levels.  Have you seen this: http://www.tmz.com/2008/12/04/robert-pattinsons-internal-hair-war/? I mean honestly.  We can’t go out now because I feel certain that he does not meet one of my dating requirements—that he take less time to get ready than I do.  I can only imagine the effort that goes into getting one’s hair to do that. Even with the nonsensical hair, he is still v., v. pretty.

When I heard Robert Pattinson was cast as the beautifully heroic, beautifully sullen, beautifully tortured, beautiful vampire, Edward Cullen, I have to say I was v. pleased.  (That’s just a small taste of how often Stephenie Meyer points out how beautiful he is in the book, but we are not here to review the book.)  I should point out that I was about halfway into book three from the Twilight series when I saw this movie.

I read the first book in two nights and I am not a fast reader.  It’s not really that the book was that good, but more so that I wanted to hurry up and get to ‘the good stuff,’ if you know what I’m saying.  My inner teenage girl was constantly screaming, “Ooh!  Kiss her!!”  Then I realized when I got to the end of the book that there wasn’t going to be any ‘good stuff.’  I had heard Stephenie Meyer is Mormon, but I never really thought about what, if any, effect that might have on her writing, in the same way that I never considered what John Grisham’s religious beliefs might be when I read The Firm.  I was just enjoying a fun, light read.  It turns out I was probably underestimating what it means to be Mormon, since *SPOILER ALERT* the whole saga turns out to be a morality play about the value of virginity.

When I see a movie after having read the source material, I really try not to make nitpicky comparisons over stuff like whether Bella’s truck looked like it was described in the book or not.  No one wants to be anywhere near the person in the theatre whispering loudly, “That’s not how it is in the book.”  Since the movie was already cast and publicized by the time I finally got around to reading the books, Bella and Edward in my head looked like Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson.

There were some plot changes, but they didn’t bother me.  I was really too distracted by other issues.  It was only moments into the movie when I discovered that unless guided by experienced hands (with a large budget), all those pieces of the vampires-are-real plot that were totally logical and not hokey in your head while reading the book, will look completely and utterly absurd on the big screen.  I didn’t flinch at all when I read that Edward, being a vampire, sparkles magnificently in the sunlight.  However, when I saw that in the movie, I convulsed into what I like to call the ‘church giggles’ (you know, when something funny happens in a situation where you are not supposed to be laughing, which only makes it harder not to laugh).

I have to say, I’m going to lay a lot of blame at the feet of Catherine Hardwicke, the director, here.  I expected the movie to be cheesy, being that it is a romance about vampires marketed to teenage girls and a lot of the time I like cheesy, but this went beyond.  I don’t know what direction, if any, the actors were given, but whenever someone was supposed to be brooding (which happens a lot in the film) they looked either like they were trying to telepathically communicate the lyrics to “Bohemian Rhapsody” (Robert Pattinson) or they were suffering from a bad case of irritable bowel syndrome (Jasper played by Jackson Rathbone).  Oh, and the music!  Ugh.  I felt like there was a constant, overpowering score that was trying to make up for the drama or tension that wasn’t happening on the screen.

Let’s just suffice it to say:  Robert Pattinson—still pretty, but please stop it with the hair.  I’m not ready to write him off as a bad actor yet because he has some upcoming roles that sound intriguing, but if I had to judge only off his performance in Twilight he wouldn’t be getting very high marks.  I was not going to waste money seeing the sequel until I heard the studio changed directors, so wise move on your part, Summit Entertainment, et al.

I don’t recommend seeing this movie, unless you could make some sort of Rocky Horror/Showgirls-like drinking game out of it.

ALISON SAYS:

I just want you all to know that I am breathing very heavily and looking at the computer with brooding eyes as I type this blog. Okay that joke may be a couple weeks late, but some of us aren’t thirteen and have jobs and may have been too busy to go see Twilight opening weekend.  Speaking of opening weekend, I heard a funny story from someone who did actually attend a Twilight screening that weekend. As we all know, lines were long and full of teenage girls.  And apparently before letting lines in, movie ushers would instruct the crowds not to scream, run, or squeal as they entered the theater.  I love that this had to be stressed.  Those poor theater employees must have their ears pounding by the end of opening weekend with all the screaming fans.

Overall, I found this movie hilarious.  I laughed a lot, I know I wasn’t supposed to, but I did.  All the jumping and sparkling and lingering looks and angst.  I also learned that apparently when vampires go into direct sunlight their button down shirts suddenly open up, revealing perfectly carved abs and pecs and they become sparkly.   I am a huge fan of sparkles (huge), but I don’t understand why the undead would be sparkly.  I realize the target audience for this movie are big fans of glitter, so what could possibly be better than a dreamy, glittering hunk of a man/boy, but still it seems to go against every conception of what it is to be undead.

A lot of the movie felt like an overly dramatized music video.  Lots of heavy guitar twangs underlining what’s happening in the story and the oh so deep emotions of Bella and Edward.  But it’s definitely still an entertaining flick to watch, even if you’re not a thirteen-year-old girl or a die-hard fan of the book series.  Let’s just put it out there, Robert Pattinson is hot.   Any red-blooded woman probably felt at least some kind of twinge in her lady parts from his appearance on screen, even with all the white powder.

Dear Robert Pattinson’s cheekbones,
We get it.
Alie

I’ve had some of my less good looking male friends complain about how they can never tell what a girl wants.  And they’re right.  You could have a guy show up with a dozen roses, and if you don’t like him, you’d find it weird or creepy, but if you like him, it’s a grand, sweeping gesture.  Someone like Robert Pattinson can tell a girl he likes to watch her sleep and it doesn’t register on the creepyometer, because you’re too entranced by his perfectly messy coif or his dark, searching eyes or the way the light catches his beautiful skin. So to my less handsome male friends, don’t tell a girl you watch her sleep or stare at her from across a room while breathing heavily.  Unless you look like Pattinson, it’s probably not gonna go the way you had planned.

LA Viewers: It’s worth catching a matinee at the Grove or Arclight, but I wouldn’t pay full price unless you are 13.

Translation for non-LA natives: A matinee is the way to go.

Two Blondes Watch a DVD: WALL-E

November 21, 2008

Two Blondes review a DVD and ramble about themselves:

ALISON SAYS:

I’m a person who is easily excitable by nature.  But with WALL-E my level of excitement is at a whole new level, one might even say a level that is out of this world, if one was into cheesy metaphors.  I saw WALL-E twice in the theaters and was extremely moved and filled with glee both times.  I don’t cry at movies, I’m not the type of girl who goes to movies hoping to cry and be emotional.  That’s not my cup of tea.  I’d rather watch super heros battling or cars exploding.  But I did cry four times the first time I watched WALL-E.  And by cry, I mean I started welling up and furiously wiped my eyes in an effort not to look like a weepy girly girl.

As I sat down to watch it for the third time on the recently released DVD, I was smiling from ear to ear.  I could not wait to be reunited with my sweet, curious robot friend.  This movie is possibly the best movie I’ve ever seen.  I don’t think I could date someone unless they agreed on this.  WALL-E’s unconditional love for EVE is a beautiful thing to watch.  Sure, if you’re a cold-hearted person with no imagination, maybe it’s hard to care about two little animated robots.  But if your heart is pumping warm blood like mine, then you will be moved by what happens and grows between these two characters.  Maybe I’m just a nerd who thinks robots are cool (especially cute ones).  Maybe I relate to WALL-E, because I do look at the world with childlike wonder and I have the curiosity of a hyper monkey.  Maybe you’re not someone who has these traits, but you should still agree that this is one of the most amazing films ever created. Pixar obviously has a really good track record, but in my humble, robot-loving opinion, they’ve even surpassed their past achievements with this film.

The opening is a moving masterpiece.  It should be framed and hung on the wall of some fancy museum where snooty people in tiny hats eat cheese and babble on and on about meaning and art.  What is established without the use of dialogue is amazing.  After witnessing the desolation and loneliness of future Earth, it only makes WALL-E’s positive, curious, caring nature that more admirable.  Despite living in a broken world, this little robot has not become bitter or mean.  He still just wants to help and wants to find happiness in any small way he can.

The future this movie painted is terrifying, but also feels like a real possibility to me.  If you’ve ever walked down Universal’s Citywalk and been surrounded by overfilling trash cans, carts selling plastic junk and crowds of jiggling, obese tourists, then you’d realize that vision may be exactly where we’re heading.  Maybe if enough people see this movie, we can all take a breath and start making small daily choices that will add up to a big impact.  Not to turn into a “The More You Know” (SFX: DING) moment, but please recycle and please turn the water off when you’re not using it.  Turning the tap off while you brush your teeth (rather than just leaving it running for 5 minutes straight) can save gallons of water a day.  Just don’t be a dick to the earth.

Back to the movie.  A shout out must be given to Fred Willard who is always hilarious.  As always, Pixar chooses their cast for talent rather than who’s recently graced the cover of “US Weekly.”  If I could find him, I would bow down in a “We’re not worthy” moment to Ben Burtt for creating the voice of WALL-E.  WALL-E’s manner of speech and sounds can make me giggle with glee.  There is not much else in the world that makes me as happy as hearing WALL-E talk and “ohhh” and ahhh.”  And looking over Burtt’s IMDb page made me even more awestruck at his many credits and his creativity with sound engineering.  Here’s two really interesting bits fom his trivia page:

To create the rumbling sound of the gigantic boulder in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), he placed a microphone close to the tire of his Honda Civic as it coasted slowly down his gravel driveway. The recording was later engineered at various speeds to best replicate the rolling boulder.

For Star Wars (1977), he created the sound of the lightsabers by mixing the humming sound of his TV set – tuned between channels – with the sound of an old 35mm projector.

Pixar, thank you, thank you, thank you!  You constantly make me believe and make me happy.

Final Word: Buy the DVD and watch it many, many times.  But be sure to recycle any plastic packaging after you buy it.

JESSICA SAYS:

I don’t have a good history with robots which might be why I didn’t feel compelled to see WALL-E in the theater this summer, no matter how many times Alison told me it made her cry and she never cries in movies.  I remember the first ‘bad’ grade I ever got in school (OK, it’s at least the first one I really remember).  It was in my junior high gifted class.  We had just finished the unit on the Maya and I loved it–not the part where we had to learn how to multiply and divide in the Mayan math system (base-twenty…don’t ask me to explain it.  I couldn’t if I wanted to, but maybe Wikipedia can help).  Math was always by far my worst subject, so I barely had a handle on our numerical system, much less anything else.

Things took a sharp downward turn for me when I found out our next unit was robotics and computer programming.  Keep in mind that I went to a public school in a small town in Missouri, so the budget for the program was approximately $2.74.  We were each given a box of parts we were supposed to assemble into something that resembled WALL-E.  The problem lay in that the robot I was given was used…heavily used.  I came to discover that it was missing at least 20% of it’s parts–most importantly, the instructions.  At the end of the unit what was supposed to be my robot was a collection of seven pieces that just looked like choking hazards.  My mom was called in for a conference.

Alison would not stop going on about how much she loved this movie, so when I saw it was coming out on DVD I decided to swallow my biterness towards robots and suggested we review the DVD.  The movie is set on future Earth, where WALL-E is a robot designed to compact garbage into a cube and stack it.  He appears to be the last remaining working robot, as humans abandoned the planet years before when it became so overrun with trash that life was unsustainable.  The story is part cautionary tale about where our planet is headed and partly a portrayl of that most basic emotional human need for companionship.

I loved the first section of the film on bleak, desolate future Earth.  WALL-E collects random pieces of the trash he compacts–a spork, an eggbeater–and keeps them in his home.  They are just tiny examples of the millions of things we use and discard without much thought on where things come from and where they go when we throw them away.

I loved the film less when WALL-E left Earth and joined the remaining humans on their spaceship.  Everything became shiny, fast, and silly.  It just felt so disjointed after the beginning of the film that my mind began to wander.  I started to think about how the companies behind this movie are as culpable as any for the consumerism and consumption the first part of the film warned against.  Now, I don’t want this to sound like I’m getting up on my soapbox against Disney or Pixar.  For the record, both companies have made films that would be on my list of favorites.  It’s just that people become the fat, lazy, narciscistic creatures like the humans in the movie by spending a childhood plopped in front of the TV for hours watching things like the WALL-E DVD, playing the WALL-E game on their PS3, etc.  Where does all that garbage that Wall-E collects in the movie come from?  Things like the 20+ variations of the WALL-E figure and all that packaging they come in, the comforter set, lunchbox, sticker book, Halloween costume, stuffed dolls, and laptop–all available at http://www.disneyshopping.com for your convience, but keep in mind kids, “Only grown-ups can buy stuff at DisneyShopping.com.”

I loved the scenes set on future Earth, but the rest left me unsatisfied (especially the happy ending, but like there was a chance of anything but a happy ending in a children’s movie).  I would recommend watching this with little ones, but it would be nice if parents followed the movie with a conversation about what we can do right now so that our planet never looks like where WALL-E lives.  When you wish upon a star…

DVD extras:  I loved the feature on the sound design process for animation, but I am a geek:  see paragraphs one and two of this review.  Of the two shorts, I prefered Presto over BURN-E, but they were both cute and definately worth checking out.

Two Blondes Go to a Movie: Burn After Reading

September 22, 2008

Two Blondes review a movie and ramble about themselves.

Alison says:

I am a Coen Brothers fan for one reason… “The Big Lebowski.” It is my favorite movie ever. I have been to Lebowski Fest three times. I even won “Best Maude.” And yes, I am very proud of that. And yes, I would call myself a Coen Brothers fan and not just because of my love for the Dude. But I didn’t love “Burn After Reading.” I liked it, but no, I will not be attending any festivals dedicated to this film, though I would attend a fan club for Richard Jenkins or J.K. Simmons after their performances in the film.

I was also really impressed with Brad Pitt’s performance There’s no question about Brad’s movie star quotient. It’s big, the biggest. But my favorite BP performances don’t involve him being a super star. It’s his “smaller” side performances that are truly awesome. Let’s rewind to 1993. Brad plays a small role as an LA stoner named Floyd in “True Romance.” He’s hilarious and perfect in this role. Another favorite “small” performance is his role of a crazy guy in “Twelve Monkeys.” He commits to that role fully. Then, there’s his portrayal of Mickey in “Snatch.” And of course we can’t forget “Thelma and Louise,” where the world first learned about Brad’s charm and abs. Maybe I’m just nostalgic for movies from the early 90’s, but I love seeing Brad playing more than just a hot guy. And he does that in “Burn After Reading,” In a scene with John Malkovich, he’s trying to act tough and mysterious. He does these little eye movements that cracked me up. There’s an earnestness and blind optimism that shines through in this character and shows Brad’s got comic chops. I also want to give a shout out to whomever did hair on “Burn After Reading.” Brad’s horribly tacky blond tips were stupendous.

With a lot of movies and TV shows, I usually find myself predicting what’s gonna happen. But I was happily surprised with some of the narrative and the violence in this movie. It felt really good to not know what was coming. But overall the film felt a bit disjointed to me. The whole didn’t always seem to match its parts and I also just didn’t care enough the characters to get super into the movie. I found myself wondering more about who Tilda Swinton’s dermatologist is, rather than being invested in what was happening to the characters.

LA Viewers: This movie is worth paying matinee price at the Grove.
Translation for non-LA viewers: If you can catch a matinee and go half price, go see this movie.

Jessica says:

How do the Coen brothers manage to get such attractive people to agree to look like such…dorks, for lack of a better word, in their films?  It’s impressive.  Brad Pitt actually seems to revel in his character’s dorkiness.  Well, let me back up.  I should probably explain that I am not a huge Coen Brothers fan.  I don’t dislike their work; I’m just not a fan.  I’ve seen Fargo and The Big Lebowski (but only once—I’ve been told I need to see it about three more times to really ‘get it’)*.

So, back to Burn After Reading, for the most part, I thought it was pretty funny.  John Malkovich was as creepy as always, but the performances I enjoyed the most were J.K. Simmons and Richard Jenkins.  I love J.K. Simmons in everything I’ve ever seen him in really.  They are both character actors, so let me help you out with where you might have seen them before:  J.K. Simmons was the dad in Juno and Dr. Skoda on Law & Order and Richard Jenkins was Nathaniel Fisher on Six Feet Under.

Now, I knew I was watching a Coen brothers’ movie and I knew that meant dark comedy and the possibility of some surprising violence.  Yet, somehow I got lulled into a relaxed state by the comedy/spy plot and then BAM you see someone get shot in the head with brain splatter.  That was mildly startling compared to seeing a character get axed in the face in the middle of the street.  I literally jumped and covered my face with my hands when the axe came down.  I’m afraid I really am my mother’s daughter.  She’s been complaining about violence in movies and TV for as long as I can remember and now apparently, so am I.  Oh, yeah, SPOILER ALERT.  Was I supposed to say that at the beginning?

Something about the whole film was just not quite right.  I had issues with the score.  It was written as if the movie was an actual spy thriller.  Imagine the score to The Fugitive and cut to Brad Pitt with frosted highlights sucking from a water bottle.  I’m sure that was supposed to be ironic, but it made me a little uneasy.  I was trying to decide if I was supposed to be horrified that I just saw someone get axed in the face or amused.  The feeling I ended up with was uncomfortable.

I recommend seeing it as a matinee.

*Alison vows to remain my friend, despite this fact.

Two Blondes Go To A Movie: The Dark Knight

September 6, 2008

Two blondes review movies and ramble a lot about themselves.

JESSICA SAYS:

Warning:  This review is going to sound like Andy Rooney, but…

Has anyone else noticed that movies have gotten really, really loud in the last couple of years?  Alison and I went to a double feature yesterday, Pineapple Express and The Dark Knight.  I was fine in Pineapple Express, but man, The Dark Knight was literally painful.  I had to plug my ears during any action sequence (which is approx. 96% of the movie).  Even after plugging my ears, I left the theatre slightly shouting everything I said.  I had the same problem a couple of years ago at one of the Bourne movies.  Is it just me?

You know it’s bad when you walk into Forever 21 and think, “Yes, this music seems to be playing at a reasonable volume,” as I did after the movies.  On a related note, on the way into the movie I told Alison I had made my first purchase at Forever 21 just a couple days prior.  She asked why that was my first.  Me:  “Because that store gives me an aneurysm.  The music is too loud, it’s messy, and there are teenagers everywhere.”  Her:  “OK, grandma.”  So maybe it is just me.

I recommend seeing this movie in the theatre, but bring industrial-strength earplugs and don’t sit on the aisle under a speaker.

ALISON SAYS:

As someone who wanted to be a super hero, but was deterred by bad arches and a fear of heights, it was fun to live the life of one for 150 minutes. I saw The Dark Knight twice in the theater and both times thought it was awesome. During my second viewing, I felt bad for Jessica as she held her right ear and winced at the impressive surround sound provided by Pacific 15 at the Grove. But despite her discomfort, I loved the music, explosions, action and awesomeness.

However, in the land of two blondes, there is no perfect review. I was really distracted by Two Face. Rather than looking like a guy who’d been burned, he looks like half a zombie. Also, in any moments where I lost my suspension of disbelief, I was a little thrown by the way Batman talked. It was so guttural, almost to the point of being silly. I think this YouTube video sums it up perfectly: 

LA Viewers: This movie is worth paying full price at Arclight.
Translation for non-LA Natives: Go to the theater to see this movie, but if you’re concerned with hearing loss, don’t sit near the speakers.

Two Blondes Go To A Movie: Pineapple Express

September 6, 2008

Two blondes review a movie and mostly ramble about themselves.

JESSICA SAYS:

My view on marijuana has changed over the years. As a teenager, I totally drank the Nancy Reagan Just Say No Kool-Aid (but only when it came to drugs—I was more than happy to overindulge in alcohol as a minor…and still am). I made it entirely through high school and college without ever lighting up, or toking, or whatever the kids are calling it. It wasn’t that hard to resist because unlike what they told us in the Just Say No club, if you say, “No thanks,” people don’t really pressure you. I was an officer in the Just Say No Club; media relations officer, which meant I went to the local radio station and recorded Just Say No ads (I also played the keyboard in the Just Say No jazz band). Vanity was my main reason for never smoking it, as it turns out. I’m horrible at inhaling. It’s embarrassing. I choke, cough, turn red, my eyes water, etc. Not what you want to happen when you’re trying to get the boy next to you to kiss you.

By the time I reached my mid-twenties, I started to realize that maybe it wasn’t such a big deal. In grad school, I decided to try it, just to say I had and to see what all the fuss was about. Again, unlike what Ms. Reagan told us, I was not automatically addicted. Like I had feared, my inability to inhale kept me to a one joint minimum and it had barely any effect on me. I became only slightly more giggly than normal.

My major concern going into this movie was that I didn’t have enough weed experience to get all the jokes. That wasn’t a problem. In the end, my main critique was that it was too long. I know this is not a novel critique for a Judd Apatow et al movie, but it was 1:52 and would have been much funnier at 1:30. The pot jokes were legitimately funny. It’s the action sequences that were way too long, and at risk of sounding like my mother, too violent. When I signed up for a stoner action adventure, I wasn’t expecting to see so many people meet their bloody demise.

So, I recommend renting this movie to watch as the second film on a staying-in night with friends. Pick something shorter as the main attraction.

ALISON SAYS:

Dear Seth Rogen,
Do you remember driving by me on Crescent Heights and 3rd six months ago? I furiously waved at you from my Blue Scion and may have even honked a couple times. No, it’s totally cool if you don’t remember.
Alison

Here’s my background, or lack thereof, when it comes to pot. In elementary school I was a star pupil when it came to Project Charlie (a drug education program). The teacher loved me, because I was and still am a nerd. She would repeat the mantra “You are special” over and over to make sure we knew we didn’t need drugs to be special. Being an only child, I was already aware of how special I was, but it was nice to see it confirmed in colored chalk up on the board.

At age thirteen, when I found out two of my friends were rowing out to the middle of our lake to get stoned, I was convinced every after school special I’d seen was about to come true. Certain that they were going to drown, I tried to save them by yelling from shore, “You’ll die out there!” My heroic efforts were mocked as they rowed farther away from me. Of course in the end, they didn’t drown. Nothing much happened at all, besides them probably enjoying the clouds more than usual.

In high school my sophomore year boyfriend, a former honors student and captain of his lacrosse team, started smoking weed after we broke up. He ended up getting kicked off the team and failing out of school. It only confirmed my every fear of the fall one takes when one experiments with drugs. Even at age 16, an age where you might not want to broadcast just how drug free and straight edge you are, I was running stop smoking programs in the student center at my school. I would shake pictures of darkened, damaged lungs at fellow classmates.

So, yeah, I was THAT girl. But despite my lack of experience with marijuana, I found Pineapple Express to be mostly hilarious. I laughed loud and often. Seth Rogen and James Franco were awesome together, and I have a newfound respect for James Franco after his performance as the ultimate pothead. My only criticism would be some of the violence at the end. Violence doesn’t bother me (two of my favorite movies are Die Hard and True Romance), but it seemed like overkill. It kind of felt like someone just wanted to throw in a shitload of blood and crazy stunts, but then again blood and stunts are super fun. But the ending felt long and overly bloody and not as funny as the rest of the film, in my sober and nerdy opinion.

LA Viewers: This movie is worth paying matinee price at the Grove, but may not be worth full price at Arclight.
Translation for non-LA Natives: I’m happy I saw it in the theaters, but I wouldn’t call it a travesty if you waited for one of your stoner buddies to rent it from Netflix.